Separated parents who have an extra bedroom so that children can stay overnight risk losing housing benefit once the “Bedroom Tax” is implemented this April.
This isn’t a new issue – we are often contacted by fathers who are having problems in getting accommodation big enough for overnight contact, but it makes the situation far worse.
The UK Government’s plan to cut housing benefit for social tenants if there are unoccupied bedrooms in the property will make shared parenting more difficult for many families.
Malcolm Chisholm MSP raised this issue in the Scottish Parliament recently, asking Housing Minister Margaret Burgess to look at this issue in the context of their family policy.
The Minister has urged councils and social landlords to consider all possible ways of avoiding evictions, and highlighted the example of Dundee City Council which is protecting tenants who cannot make up the shortfall in rent caused by the “bedroom tax”.
Meanwhile Lord Freud, one of the main architects of the current welfare reform, commented on a phone-in that a separated father didn’t deserve a bedroom for his three children to stay at weekends, suggesting they should share a sofa bed when they stayed with him.
Given the continuing poitical controversy, FNF Scotland suggests that parents faced by this problem should contact local and national politicians for support, and should also seek advice from bodies such as Shelter and CABx.
Keeping up the pressure alongside the many other groups of people affected by this measure may lead to further compromises.